Steph Curry vs. LeBron James is an NBA reminder to appreciate greatness

Steph vs. LeBron V is NBA's reminder to live in the moment originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SACRAMENTO -- Klay Thompson on Sunday, after the Warriors took down the Sacramento Kings by 20 points on the road in Game 7, said he's been waiting 12 years, or his entire NBA career, for what's next. Well, the fine folks in the league offices have been waiting exactly five years.

As the son of a former Showtime Laker whose father won two rings in Los Angeles, Thompson is pumped to play the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals, beginning Tuesday night at Chase Center. His father, Mychal, is even the radio color commentator of the Warriors' next opponent. But even with so many storylines, so much star power and a true Battle of California, this matchup is going to be seen as one thing and one thing only.

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Steph Curry vs. LeBron James for the fifth time in the NBA playoffs.

"It's amazing, because you're still in the fight," Curry said Sunday. "It's better than the alternative of you're on the outside looking in. Having been down 0-2 in this series, nothing is guaranteed and you don't take anything for granted.

"It is special to know from the first series we played him in Cleveland in the '14-'15 season to now, we're blessed to be playing at this level still and excited about a new chapter. Two teams trying to keep your season alive and chase a championship. That's what it's all about."

Curry in March turned 35 years old in his 14th NBA season. James turned 38 last December and is in his 20th season. Curry on Sunday became the first player in history to score 50 points in a Game 7. James responded to Memphis Grizzlies troll Dillon Brooks calling him "old" after the Grizzlies' Game 2 win in their first-round series by dropping 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block three days later as the Lakers won the series in five games.


Compared to Michael Jordan by Steve Kerr after Game 7 in Sacramento for his killer instinct, Curry became the second player ever to score 200 points or more in a playoff series at 35 or older. He totaled 236 over seven games, averaging 33.7 points against the Kings. The first do so was Jordan, in the 1998 Eastern Conference finals and NBA Finals. He scored 222 in seven games against the Indiana Pacers in the conference finals at 35, averaging 31.7 points, and then scored 201 points in six games against the Utah Jazz in the Finals -- good for an average of 33.5 points.

James earlier this season passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time scoring champion. Kareem was 42 when he last laced up his sneakers. LeBron was four years younger when he broke the Lakers legend's scoring record. It would take a Medieval scroll to list the ways he has defied age, and the same can be said for Curry with each game he steps on the court.

Appreciate it. All of it.

"Well I think No. 1 you're talking about some of the ultimate competitors," Draymond Green said Sunday about facing James again in the playoffs. "LeBron is one of the ultimate competitors. Steph, myself, Klay [Thompson], [Kevon Looney] -- ultimate competitors. So to have these opportunities, we don't take it for granted.


"I think who you are as a professional shows during these times. Here we are eight years later from the first time we met in a playoff series. That's special. It says a lot. It says a lot about who you are as a pro and how serious you take this and how you appreciate this game. I know I speak for all the guys I just mentioned when I say the appreciation for the game and for the stage. For the lights.

"This series against the Lakers is going to be epic. You've got Steph, you've got LeBron doing it all over again. We've never played against the Lakers in a playoff series. We get to experience that. What I will say is stop trying to turn the page on us so fast, stop trying to turn the page on Bron so fast. We get so caught up in 'What's the next thing?' that we don't appreciate the current. So for me and our guys, we're going to appreciate this every step of the way. Continue to appreciate it, but also put ourselves in the best position we can to be successful."

Appreciate it. All of it.

The last time Curry and James squared off in the postseason was the 2018 NBA Finals. Yes, LeBron and the Lakers beat Steph and the Warriors in the 2021 play-in tournament, but if the league isn't going to count those stats, neither are we. But for a quick reminder of their greatness, Curry scored 37 points on 12-of-23 shooting and went 6 of 9 from 3-point range, and James hit a dagger of a three to complete his 22-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.


They officially last played one another as playoff opponents a month-plus shy of five years ago on June 8, 2018, in Game 4 of the Finals. Curry sent James and the Cleveland Cavaliers home with an epic performance of 37 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks. James gave the Cavs 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, but that was far from enough as he also turned the ball over six times.

Led by Curry, the Warriors have the edge on James in their playoff past. They're 3-1 against him, with all four previous series being in the Finals and against the Cavs. Curry is 15-7 overall playing James under the bright lights, and has averaged 25.4 points, 6.3 assists and 5.9 rebounds. James has put up 33.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 9.3 assists on Golden State years ago in the playoffs.

Blink and James can put you in a basketball time machine, still looking like the game's best player. Curry gave everyone the loudest reminder in Game 7 against the Kings that the title still can belong to him. Both players already should have their faces etched on basketball's Mount Rushmore.

"Hopefully we never find out," Curry said when asked who can stop him after his 50-piece.

RELATED: Curry saves Warriors with unbelievable performance vs. Kings

Next month, a 19-year-old Victor Wembanyama will highlight the NBA draft as the next great superstar. He'll be followed by a 19-year-old Scoot Henderson, who signed with the G League Ignite at 17 years old. The desire to flip the page on the past and froth at the future has never been more prevalent.

If anything, the fifth playoff installment of Steph vs. LeBron should be a stern reminder to live in the moment. To slow down. To never take greatness for granted.

Who knows how much longer we have, no matter how far these two all-time greats keep pushing boundaries while making invincibility feel more and more like reality.

Appreciate it. All of it.

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